Mighty Life List #26. Take a walk in the National Arboretum.

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One of the amazing things about living in DC is there is so much great stuff to do here (lots of it free). The National Arboretum has been on my “To Visit” list for years, but despite living in DC for 10 years now, I never visited until last weekend. My lovely wife read in the paper that the Arboretum was doing tram tours on Saturday, and we decided to check it out. A tram tour is a good introduction to the Arboretum, because it is 446 acres and there is way too much to see on foot in one day. We got a good overview of the collections, and we are eager to go back and explore more (especially when all the flowering trees are blooming in the Spring!)

For this weekend however, we just took a short walk after our tour, through a bunch of azaleas and then across the field above to check out the columns – which are from the U.S. Capitol. They are sandstone columns which were replaced with marble when the East Portico of the Capitol was renovated in 1958. The columns were in storage for decades, and finally moved to the Arboretum in the early 1990s (if I am remembering correctly). It kind of makes you wonder what other huge, interesting thing our country has in storage!

Mighty Life List #26. Take a walk in the National Arboretum.

Mighty Life List #20, Part 2: Visit Every Library In The DC System, Take A Picture, And Check Out A Book.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library is the DCPL branch I visit most often. It is just a few blocks from my work, and I’m there about once a week. MLK is DC’s “central library” with a larger building and collection than the neighborhood libraries and reference librarians who are subject specialists. It’s also kind of ugly.

MLK

Okay, that’s probably unfair. The building is historic, designed by Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1972. If Wikipedia is to be believed, it’s the only library he ever designed, which is pretty cool right there. There is a great, big mural in the lobby depicting the library’s namesake.

Mural

The collection is good though, and there have been some interior renovations that make the space a little friendlier (like the Children’s Room on the second floor that was redone a few years ago). There is also an awesome new Teen Space, but I didn’t get a good picture.

Children's Library

I spend most of my time in the “Popular Library” however – home to the Fiction collection, DVDs, and the holds shelf. I put lots of books on hold, and then all I have to do is swing by and pick them.

Popular Library

Today’s pick-up? Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethaa.

Mighty Life List #20, Part 2: Visit Every Library In The DC System, Take A Picture, And Check Out A Book.

Wedding Memory: Something Blue

Photo by Eva Russo.

To the extent that our wedding had “colors”, the color was blue. When our wedding party folks asked us what to wear, we said “something blue”, which seemed like an easy color for folks to find something they liked in. I’m not a big shoe person, but once we made that decision, I decided that I wanted to wear blue shoes, which were harder to find than I thought they would be. These are from Rockport, so they are quite comfy and they are the most expensive shoes I’ve ever purchased. If you are going to wear a short wedding dress though, I think a little shoe splurge is called for!

Wedding Memory: Something Blue

Mighty Life List #6: Eat a lobster roll in Maine.

Look at this lobster roll. It is a thing of beauty!

Shockingly for a girl who married a Mainer, I had never had a lobster roll until this past week. Luckily this sad state of affairs has now been corrected by this lovely and delicious lobster roll from the lobster shack at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth, ME. It was awesome – and I have to say the bread is what makes it. So good.

P.S. The photo is all Jami. She just got a new camera, and I think the photos she is taking now are truly stunning.

Mighty Life List #6: Eat a lobster roll in Maine.

August Round-Up

I read 18 books in August, 8 fiction and 10 non-fiction. I feel like that must be a personal record for non-fiction read in a month!

Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell. A graphic novel that looks at a family affected by mental illness. The book is from Top Shelf, which is one of my favorite publishers of graphic novels.

Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars, Volume 1 by Frank Beddor. An interesting somewhat Steampunk reworking of Alice in Wonderland, in which Hatter M (part of an elite squad of millinery-ly inclined secret security agents) attempt to rescue Alyss, who has been kidnapped.

For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage by Tara Parker-Pope. Parker-Pope decided to take a look at the scientific research done on marriage after her own marriage failed. Her book offers an interesting overview of the research out there, as well as some concrete advice, in an easy, enjoyable read.

To Davy Jones Below by Carola Dunn. Daisy Dalrymple again. DCPL continues to leave me hanging (I had to buy this book), but I just discovered Montgomery County has more comprehensive coverage of this series. Expect more Daisy Dalrymple books next month!

Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer) by Stan Cox. This book was the “bonus book” for our September book club. It was interesting, if sometimes dry, and a fairly quick read (it’s only about 200 pages). It definitely opened my eyes to how unsustainable our current energy use is here in the U.S.

I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage by Mary-Ann Kirkby. This book is accurately subtitled. I found it truly fascinating. The only thing I knew about Hutterites going in was what I learned on a brief news program years ago – Hutterites are like Amish, but they wear patterns and are sort of communist (communal property). I learned so much about a group I hardly knew anything about. If you are curious at all, I really recommend the book.

The Shadow Spies by Nykko. This is the second book in the Elsewhere Chronicles series, which is a really book graphic novel series for middle school aged kids. Recommended.

Here If You Need Me: A True Story by Kate Braestrup. I’m reading Braestrup backward, having started with her second book, Marriage and Other Acts of Charity, but I really enjoy her as a writer – which is saying something since she is a UU minister, and chaplain for the Maine Warden Service, and I am generally pretty uncomfortable reading about folks’ faith or religious beliefs.

Aya: The Secrets Come Out by Marguerite Abouet. This is the third book in the Aya series, set in the Ivory Coast in the last 1970s – a time and place I know very little about.

Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson. I finished the book about a week before the Pakistan floods and it really made me realize what a huge tragedy those floods are – and also how awful the security situation is in Afghanistan, especially for women and girls. No one should be killed or bodily injured for going to school. Let’s just agree on that now.

To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel. A memoir in graphic novel form about the author’s childhood and teenage years at the School of American Ballet in New York City. This would definitely be enjoyed by ballet crazed youngsters (and offers a positive view of a dancer who chooses not to pursue ballet as a career).

The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation by David Kamp. It really is striking how much the food universe has changed in just the 3o years I’ve been alive. Kamp does a good job of tracking the progress.

Korgi, Vol. 1 by Christian Slade. Beautifully illustrated wordless graphic novel set in a magical land filled with Mollies (wood folk) and corgi dogs.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier. A graphic novel memoir of middle school, with it’s normal doses of crushes, teasing, peer pressure, and a heaping side of dental distress.

Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson. My least favorite of all the Bryson books I’ve read so far. Bryson wanders solo around Europe in the early 1990s. Mostly he seems mopey to me.

Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons In Life, Love, And Language by Deborah Fallows. I got this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. It thought it was a good, quick read (I read the whole book in one sitting on a bus to New York), but it’s definitely not my favorite of the expats in China genre. I found myself wishing that Fallows had either gone there more with the language (more research and nitty-gritty on the Chinese language, rather than just anecdotes), or had headed more firmly in the personal experiences direction. If you are interested in reading about the experiences of a Westerner living in China and learning Chinese, I recommend River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler.

Silverfin: The Graphic Novel by Charlie Higson. Imagine James Bond as a teenager, going to school at Eton. Now imagine a graphic novel was made of that account. Voila, Silverfin: The Graphic Novel.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. A Reliable Wife is a dark book, set in Wisconsin in the early 1900s. Ralph Truitt has advertised for a wife, and Catherine Land replies, finding herself in relatively short order on a train into the long, dark Wisconsin winter. Little is what it seems, and the back story unravels over the course of the book. It was a good read.

Solomon’s Thieves by Jordan Mechner. Another graphic novel. I know Mechner from his adaptation of Prince of Persia (yes, the video game) to graphic novel format, so it was interesting to see what Mechner creates when starting from scratch. Solomon’s Thieves is set in the Middle Ages and deals with the return of the Knights Templar from the Crusades and their subsequent persecution by the French monarchy. But humorously.

August Round-Up